Tuesday, 31 October 2017

1st Earl of Salisbury

The founder of this branch of the CECIL family was descended from the celebrated Lord High Treasurer, William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley, whose eldest son,THOMAS, 2nd Baron, was created EARL OF EXETER, 1605. THE HON ROBERT CECIL, the youngest son, was on the same day created EARL OF SALISBURY.
THE HON ROBERT CECIL (c1563-1612), youngest son of William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley (ELIZABETH I's celebrated Lord High Treasurer, by his second wife, Mildred, daughter of Sir Anthony Cooke), received the honour of knighthood, 1601, was sworn of the Privy Council, appointed Secretary of State, and subsequently Master of the Court of Wards in the reign of ELIZABETH I, but did not attain the honours of the peerage until after the accession of JAMES I, when Sir Robert was created, in 1603, Baron Cecil, of Essendon, Rutland.

His lordship was advanced to a viscountcy, 1604, as Viscount Cranborne; and further advanced to the dignity of an earldom, 1605, as EARL OF SALISBURY.

During these periods he continued as Secretary of State, but succeeded subsequently, at the demise of the Earl of Dorset, to the Lord High Treasurership.

Lord Treasurer Cecil uncovered the plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament in 1605.

His lordship married firstly, in 1589, Elizabeth, daughter of William, 10th Baron Cobham; and secondly, Frances Newton, by whom he had issue,
WILLIAM, his successor;
Frances.
The 1st Earl died in 1612, worn out with business.

In his last illness he was heard to say to Sir Walter Cope, "Ease and pleasure quake to hear of death; but my life, full of cares and miseries, desireth to be dissolved."

He had some years previously (1603) addressed a letter to Sir James Harrington, the poet, in pretty much the same tone:
"Good Knight", saith the minister, "rest content and give heed to one that hath sorrowed in the bright lustre of a court, and gone heavily on the best seeming fairground. 
'Tis a great task to prove one's honesty and yet not mar one's fortune. You have tasted a little thereof in our blessed Queen's time, who was more than a man, and, in truth, sometimes less than a woman. 
I wish I waited now in your presence-chamber, with ease at my food and rest in my bed. I am pushed from the shore of comfort, and know not where the winds and waves of a court will bear me. 
I know it bringeth little comfort on earth; and he is, I reckon, no wise man that looketh this way to heaven."
His lordship was succeeded by his only son,

WILLIAM, 2nd Earl (1591-1668), KG, who wedded, in 1608, the Lady Catherine Howard, youngest daughter of Thomas, 1st Earl of Suffolk, and was succeeded by his grandson,

JAMES, 3rd Earl (1648-83), KG (son of Charles, Viscount Cranborne, by Diana, daughter and co-heir of James, 1st Earl of Dirletoun), who espoused, in 1661, the Lady Margaret Manners, daughter of John, 8th Earl of Rutland, and was succeeded by his eldest son,

JAMES, 4th Earl (1666-94), who, being converted to the Catholic faith, was presented by the grand jury of Middlesex immediately before the revolution of 1688 as a popish recusant; and in 1689 the House of Commons resolved that his lordship and the Earl of Peterborough be impeached for high treason, for departing from their allegiance, and being reconciled to the Church of Rome, but the prosecution was eventually abandoned.

He married Frances, daughter and co-heir of Simon Bennett, of Beachampton, Buckinghamshire, and was succeeded at his decease by his only son,

JAMES, 5th Earl (1691-1728); who took his seat in the House of Lords, 1712, and carried King Edward's staff at the coronation of GEORGE I, 1714.

His lordship wedded, in 1709, the Lady Anne Tufton, second daughter and co-heir of Thomas, 6th Earl of Thanet, by whom he left (with three daughters) his successor at his demise,

JAMES, 6th Earl (1713-80), who married, in 1743, Elizabeth, sister to the Rev John Keet, Rector of Hatfield, and had an only surviving son,

JAMES, 7th Earl (1748-1823), KG, who wedded, in 1773, the Lady Emily Mary Hill, daughter of Wills, 1st Marquess of Downshire, by whom (who was burnt to death in the west wing of Hatfield House in 1835), he had issue,
JAMES BROWNLOW WILLIAM, his successor;
Georgiana Charlotte Augusta; Emily Anne Bennett Elizabeth; Caroline.
His lordship was created, in 1789, MARQUESS OF SALISBURY, and installed a Knight of the Garter, 1793.

Seats ~ Hatfield House, Hertfordshire; Childwall Hall, Lancashire.

Sunday, 29 October 2017

New Dean of Belfast

The Board of Nomination has approved the nomination of the Venerable Stephen Forde, Archdeacon of Dalriada, in the diocese of Connor, to be appointed to the Deanery of the Cathedral Church of Saint Anne, Belfast, on the resignation of the Very Reverend John Mann.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

The Ven Stephen Forde, Rector of Larne and Inver with Glynn and Raloo, is a native of Rathfriland, County Down, and later lived in Downpatrick and attended Campbell College in Belfast.

He gained a degree in architecture at Edinburgh University before training in theology at the Church of Ireland Theology College, Dublin.

The Archdeacon was ordained in 1986 and was curate at St Mary's, Crumlin Road, Belfast, until 1989 when he was appointed Chaplain, or Dean of Residence, at the Queen's University of Belfast.

Furthermore, he was a minor canon of Belfast Cathedral, from 1989-91.

In 1995, he was appointed Rector of Booterstown and Mount Merrion in the diocese of Dublin, and during this time was Chaplain to UCD and Chaplain to Blackrock Clinic.

He returned to Connor in 1999 as Rector of Larne and Inver with Glynn and Raloo, and was appointed to the rural deanery of Carrickfergus in 2001.

The Archdeacon is married to Fiona, a staff nurse at Antrim Hospital. They have three children.

Ballyfin House

THE COOTE BARONETS WERE THE GREATEST LANDOWNERS IN THE QUEEN'S COUNTY, WITH 47,451 ACRES

This is the parent stock whence the noble houses of COOTEEarls of Mountrath, and COOTE, Barons Castle Coote, both now extinct, emanated. 

This noble family derives its origin from

SIR JOHN COOTE, a native of France, who married Isabella, the daughter and heir of the Seigneur Du Bois, of that kingdom, and had issue,

SIR JOHN COOTE, Knight, who coming into England, settled in Devon, and married a daughter of Sir John Fortescue, of that county.

His lineal descendant,

JOHN COOTE, heir to his uncle, 28th Abbot of Bury St Edmund's, wedded Margaret, daughter of Mr Drury, by whom he had four sons,
Richard;
FRANCIS, of whom we treat;
Christopher;
Nicholas.
Mr Coote's second son,

FRANCIS COOTE, of Eaton, in Norfolk, served ELIZABETH I; and by Anne, his wife, had issue,

SIR NICHOLAS COOTE, living in 1636, who had two sons,
CHARLES, his heir;
William (Very Rev), Dean of Down, 1635.
Sir Nicholas's elder son,

SIR CHARLES COOTE (1581-1642), Knight, of Castle Cuffe, Queen's County, who served in the wars against O'Neill, Earl of Tyrone, at the head, as captain of the 100th Foot Regiment, with which corps he was at the siege of Kinsale, and was appointed, by JAMES I (in consequence of the good and faithful services he had rendered to ELIZABETH I), provost-marshal of the province of Connaught for life.

In 1620, he was constituted vice-president of the same province; and created, in 1621, a baronet.

Sir Charles distinguished himself, subsequently, by many gallant exploits; but the most celebrated was the relief of Birr, in 1642.

Being dispatched, with Sir Thomas Lucas and six troops of horse, to relieve that garrison, and some other fortresses, it was necessary, in order to effect the objective, to pass the causeway broken by the rebels, who had thrown up a ditch at the end of it.

Sir Charles, leading thirty dismounted dragoons, beat the enemy, with the loss of their captain and twenty men; relieved the castles of Birr, Borris, and Knocknamase; and having continued almost forty hours on horseback, returned to the camp with the loss of only one man.

This is the surprising passage through Mountrath woods which justly caused the title of MOUNTRATH to be entailed upon his son,

Sir Charles, who married Dorothea, youngest daughter and co-heir of Hugh Cuffe, of Cuffe's Wood, County Cork, and had issue,
CHARLES, his heir;
Chidley, of Killester, Co Dublin;
Richard, ancestor of the EARL OF BELLAMONT;
Thomas, of Coote Hill;
Letitia.
Sir Charles being slain in a sally to protect the town of Trim, in 1642, was succeeded by his eldest son,

SIR CHARLES COOTE (c1610-61), 2nd Baronet, who was elevated to the peerage, in 1661, as Baron Coote, Viscount Coote, and EARL OF MOUNTRATH; and the baronetcy merged in the superior dignity, until the demise of

CHARLES HENRY (1725-1802), 7th Earl, without male issue, when the earldom expired.

A new barony, that of Castle Coote, which his lordship obtained, passed accordingly and ceased likewise, in 1827; while the ancient baronetcy reverted to 

SIR CHARLES HENRY COOTE, 9th Baronet (1792-1864), of Ballyfin, great-grandson of the Rev Chidley Coote DD, lineal descendant of Chidley Coote, by his second wife, Eliza Anne.


*****

Sir Algernon Charles Plumptre Coote, 12th Baronet (1847–1920), was Lord-Lieutenant of Queen's County, 1900-20.

Sir Ralph Algernon Coote (1874-1941), 13th Baronet, was the last representative of his line to occupy Ballyfin House.

Thereafter the estate was purchased by the Irish Land Commission, while the noble mansion and portion of the demesne were acquired in 1930 by the Patrician Order, a distinguished Irish teaching brotherhood long associated with successful educational work in the district.

The 14th Baronet, Rear-Admiral Sir John, CB CBE DSC, was Director of Naval Ordnance, 1955-58. 

Sir Christopher John Coote, 15th Baronet (b 1928) is married and lives in Wiltshire.


BALLYFIN HOUSE, situated at the foot of the Slieve Bloom mountains near Mountrath in County Laois, is stated to be "the grandest and most lavishly appointed early 19th century Classical house in Ireland" (Bence-Jones). 

The mansion was built between 1821-26 for Sir Charles Coote, 9th Baronet, replacing a house of 1778 which belonged to William Wellesley-Pole, 3rd Earl of Mornington and brother of the 1st Duke of Wellington.



Sir Charles purchased the estate from Wellesley-Pole about 1812 and apparently employed an architect called Madden to design the initial phase of Ballyfin; then switched to the Morrisons.

Ballyfin is a two-storey maansion house with a long library running at one side from front to back, extending into a curved bow in the centre of the side elevation, containing a top-lit rotunda.

The library wing is of one bay on either side of the central curved bow, fronted by a colonnade of large Ionic columns. 

The side elevation is prolonged by an elegantly-curving glass and iron conservatory of about 1850.




The principal front consists of thirteen bays with a massive Ionic, pedimented portico; the two end bays on either side being stepped back.

The interior is quite magnificent and exquisitely furnished, with a riot of notable effects and a wealth of heavy, opulent plasterwork; Scagliola columns in Siena, porphyry, green and black; inlaid parquetry floors.




The saloon is flanked by the rotunda (above), which is surrounded by Ionic columns and has a coffered dome.

The entrance hall is said to be more constrained, with a coffered ceiling and a mosaic Roman floor. 

This leads into the splendid top-lit saloon in the centre of the mansion, which boasts a coved ceiling adorned with superlative plasterwork and a screen of Corinthian columns at either end.

The drawing-room has a typical Morrison ceiling and gilded Louis Quinze on the walls of ca 1840s.

Today the demesne comprises 600 acres of parkland, a lake and ancient woods, delightful garden buildings, follies and grottoes.

The landscape, laid out in the 18th century, is among the finest examples in Ireland of the natural style of gardening inspired by ‘Capability’ Brown.

Ballyfin House was formerly the Patrician College.

Patrician College Ballyfin operated from 1930 to 2009.

Sir Ralph Algernon Coote (1874-1941), 13th Baronet, was the last representative of his line to occupy Ballyfin House.

Thereafter the estate was purchased by the Irish Land Commission, while the noble mansion and portion of the demesne were acquired in 1930 by the Patrician Order, a distinguished Irish teaching brotherhood long associated with successful educational work in the district. 

Its architectural beauty has, however, been carefully preserved, and nothing has been lost in the change of ownership to deteriorate from the graceful lines of the building that Sir Charles Coote, 9th Baronet, expended a fortune in perfecting.

The Patrician Order sold the estate in 2009.

Among other features are a medieval-style tower, built as a folly in the 1860s and said to command a view of seven counties; and walled gardens.

First published in May, 2011.  Images of Ballyfin House courtesy of Ballyfin Demesne.

Friday, 27 October 2017

Potato Farls

Like Ulster potato bread or farls?

I devour it like nobody's business.

I came across this delightful video clip of Rosemary demonstrating how she makes it:-

Freemen of Belfast: 1960-79

HONORARY BURGESSES OF THE CITY OF BELFAST
ELECTED AND ADMITTED BY THE COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF BELFAST UNDER THE MUNICIPAL PRIVILEGE (IRELAND) ACT, 1875


65  Royal Sussex Regiment ~ 1961

66  Thomas Gibson Henderson ~ 1964

67  Sir Peter Malden Studd GBE KCVO DL ~ 1971

68  Lady Studd ~ 1971

69  The Rt Hon Ralph Francis Alnwick Baron Grey of Naunton, GCMG GCVO OBE PC ~ 1972

70  The Rt Hon Esmé Mae Baroness Grey of Naunton ~ 1972

71  Ulster Division, Royal Naval Reserve ~ 1974

First published in August, 2012.

Thursday, 26 October 2017

Bessborough House

THE EARLS OF BESSBOROUGH WERE THE SECOND LARGEST LANDOWNERS IN COUNTY KILKENNY, WITH 23,967 ACRES

This ancient and noble family derives its origin from Picardy, in France.

Their ancestor accompanied William, Duke of Normandy, in his expedition to England, and his descendants established their residence at Haile, near Whitehaven, in Cumberland.

They assumed their surname from the lordship of Ponsonby, in Cumberland.

The office of Barber to the King was conferred upon them about the same time as the Earl of Arran's ancestor was appointed Butler.

JOHN PONSONBY, of Haile Hall, was great-grandfather of

SIR JOHN PONSONBY (c1609-78), Knight, of Haile, Colonel of a regiment of horse in the service of CROMWELL, who wedded Dorothy, daughter of John Brisco, of Crofton, Cumberland, and had by her a son, JOHN, ancestor of MILES PONSONBY, of Haile.

Sir John married secondly, Elizabeth, daughter of Henry, 1st Baron Folliott, and widow of Richard, son and heir of Sir Edward Wingfield, and by her had issue, from which derives the family of which we are about to treat.

Colonel Ponsonby, removing himself into Ireland, was appointed one of the commissioners for taking the depositions of the Protestants, concerning murders said to have been committed during the war, and was Sheriff of counties Wicklow and Kilkenny in 1654.

He represented the latter county in the first parliament called after the Restoration; had two grants of lands under the acts of settlement, and, by accumulating debentures, left a very considerable fortune.

Sir John was succeeded by his eldest son,

SIR HENRY PONSONBY, Knight, at whose decease, in the reign of WILLIAM III, without issue, the estates devolved upon his brother,

THE RT HON WILLIAM PONSONBY (1659-1724), of Bessborough, MP for County Kilkenny in the reigns of ANNE and GEORGE I.

This gentleman was sworn of the Privy Council in 1715, and elevated to the peerage by the title of Baron Bessborough in 1721.

His lordship was advanced to a viscountcy, in 1723, as Viscount Duncannon.

He married Mary, sister of Brabazon Moore, of Ardee, County Louth, and had, with six daughters, three sons,
BRABAZON, his heir;
Henry, major-general;
Folliott.
His lordship was succeeded by his eldest son,

BRABAZON, 2nd Viscount (1679-1758), who was advanced to an earldom, in 1739, as EARL OF BESSBOROUGH; and created a peer of Great Britain, 1749, as Baron Ponsonby of Sysonsby, Leicestershire.

His lordship wedded firstly, Sarah, widow of Hugh Colville, and daughter of James Margetson (son and heir of the Most Rev James Margetson, Lord Archbishop of Armagh), and had issue,
WILLIAM, his successor;
John, Speaker of the Irish House of Commons;
Richard;
Sarah, m to Edward, 5th Earl of Drogheda;
Anne, m to Benjamin Burton;
Elizabeth, m to Rt Hon Sir W Fownes Bt;
Letitia, m to Hervey, Viscount Mountmorres.
The 1st Earl espoused secondly, in 1733, Elizabeth, eldest daughter and co-heir of John Sankey, of Tenelick, County Longford (and widow of Sir John King, and of John Moore, Lord Tullamore), but by that lady had no issue.

He was succeeded by his elder son,

WILLIAM, 2nd Earl (1704-93), who married, in 1739, Lady Caroline Cavendish, eldest daughter of William, Duke of Devonshire, and had surviving issue,
FREDERICK, his successor;
Catherine, m to Aubrey, 5th Duke of St Albans;
Charlotte, m to William, 4th Earl Fitzwilliam.
His lordship was succeeded by his only son,

FREDERICK, 3rd Earl (1758-1844), who wedded, in 1780, Henrietta Frances, second daughter of John, 1st Earl Spencer, by whom he had issue,
JOHN WILLIAM, his successor;
Frederick Cavendish (Sir);
William Francis, 1st Baron de Mauley;
Caroline.
The heir apparent is the present holder's son, Frederick Arthur William Ponsonby, styled Viscount Duncannon.

BESSBOROUGH HOUSE is located in Kildalton near Piltown in County Kilkenny.

It was first built in 1745 by Francis Bindon for the 1st Earl of Bessborough.

Bessborough House, as stated by Mark Bence-Jones, consists of a centre block of two storeys over a basement joined to two-storey wings by curved sweeps.


The entrance front has nine bays; a three-bay pedimented breakfront with a niche above the pedimented Doric doorway.

The roof parapet has urns, while the basement is rusticated; perron and double stairway with ironwork railings in front of the entrance door.

The Hall has a screen of Ionic columns made of Kilkenny marble. The Saloon has a ceiling of Rococo plasterwork; and a notable chimney-piece.

Bessborough House had to be rebuilt in 1929 after it was burned down in 1923.

The Ponsonbys never returned to the house after this.


In 1940, the Oblate Fathers established a seminary at Bessborough House.

The Oblates worked their own bakery, and farmed dairy cows, poultry, cattle, pigs, sheep. They grew potatoes, grain and other crops.

They also had a very good orchard.

Alas, the great mansion has been altered and added-to since the Ponsonbys left: The urns have been removed from the parapet and are now at Belline.

From 1941 to 1971, 360 priests were ordained in Bessborough House, Kildalton.

By 1970, numbers joining the order had fallen and the Oblates decided to sell the property.

It was bought for £250,000 by the Irish Department of Agriculture in 1971.

It was then opened as an agricultural and horticultural college and renamed Kildalton College.

Other seats ~ Parkstead House, Surrey; Sysonby, Leicestershire; Stansted Park, West Sussex.

First published in September, 2011.  Bessborough arms courtesy of European Heraldry.

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

1st Marquess of Exeter

The first who derived dignity from the city of Exeter was JOHN HOLLAND, Earl of Huntingdon, third son of Thomas de Holland, Earl of Kent, by the great heiress, JOAN OF KENT, "Fair Maid of Kent", who was advanced, in 1397, in open parliament, to the DUKEDOM OF EXETER; but joining in a conspiracy with the Earl of Kent, he was attainted and beheaded in 1400, when his honours expired.

The Duke had married Elizabeth of Lancaster, daughter of John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster, and left issue.

Sixteen years later, Thomas Beaufort, Earl of Dorset, youngest son of John of Gaunt, by Katherine Swynford, was created, for life only, DUKE OF EXETER.

His Grace died in 1426, without issue, when all his honours expired; and from that period the city of Exeter remained without a duke for seventeen years, when JOHN HOLLAND was created, in 1443, DUKE OF EXETER.

His Grace, who was a Knight of the Garter, Lord High Admiral of England, Ireland, and Aquitaine, and Constable of the Tower of London, died in 1447, and was succeeded by his son,

HENRY, 3rd Duke (1430-75), a staunch Lancastrian, who sharing the temporary triumphs and defeats of his party was eventually, in 1461, attainted, when the dukedom expired.

MORE than thirty years subsequently elapsed before the title of EXETER was again borne, when at length HENRY COURTENAY, the restored Earl of Devon, was created, 1525, MARQUESS OF EXETER.

This nobleman, who was a distinguished courtier in the reign of HENRY VIII, sat in judgment on the trial of the unfortunate ANNE BOLEYN; but the year after, incurring the displeasure of the King, he was convicted of high treason, and beheaded in 1538, when the marquessate of Exeter became extinct.

His son and heir, the unhappy EDWARD COURTENAY (c1527-56) was imprisoned in the Tower during the remainder of the reign of HENRY VIII, but upon the accession of QUEEN MARY, he was released and created EARL OF DEVON.

About half a century afterwards the title of EXETER, as an earldom, was conferred upon the present family of CECIL, spelt at different times Seisyllt, Sicell, Seisyll, and Cycell, and founded by one of the most remarkable men in English history.

WILLIAM CECIL (1520-98), born at Bourne, Lincolnshire (son and heir of Sir Richard Cecil, an officer of the Court in attendance upon HENRY VIII), having attracted the attention and attained the subsequent favour of his Sovereign by a successful dispute with two intemperate chaplains of O'Neill, the Irish chieftain, on the power of the Pope, the King granted him a reversion of the office of Custos Brevium; and from that period he resolved to pursue a political, rather than a forensic course, which latter he had originally intended to adopt having entered himself at Gray's Inn in 1541.

In the reign of EDWARD VI, Mr Cecil was appointed Secretary of State, when he received the honour of knighthood and was sworn of the Privy Council.

Under the rule of QUEEN MARY, although a zealous reformist previously, Sir William, with the tact of the renowned Vicar of Bray, doffed his Protestant mantle, and conformed to the ancient faith.

This outward demonstration proved not to have been assumed in vain, for we find the wily politician enjoying again the sunshine of royal favour, and actually nominated, with Lord Paget and Sir Edward Hastings, to conduct Cardinal Pole, then invested with a Legatine Council, into England.

In this reign Cecil represented Lincolnshire in Parliament.

Immediately upon the accession of ELIZABETH I, however (when he became once more a staunch denouncer of of popish errors), the star of his fortune arose, and few statesmen have been guided through a more brilliant course.

His first official employment was his resumption as Secretary of State and, in that, so sensible was his royal mistress of his important services that Her Majesty elevated him to the peerage, 1571, as Baron Burghley, although at this period his private fortune does not appear to have been much advanced, for by a letter written by himself just after his elevation, he says that he is "the poorest lord in England."


A conspiracy was soon after discovered against his life, and the two assassins, Barney and Mather, declared, at their execution, that they were instigated by the Spanish ambassador; for which, with other offences, His Excellency was ordered to depart the Kingdom.

As a consolation for these perils, his lordship was honoured with the Order of the Garter in June, 1572; and in September following, at the decease of Lord Winchester, appointed Lord High Treasurer.

His lordship married firstly, Mary, sister of Sir John Cheke, tutor to EDWARD VI, by whom he had an only son,
THOMAS, his successor.
His first wife dying after a short period, he wedded secondly, Mildred, daughter of Sir Anthony Cooke, Knight, of Gidea Hall, Essex, by whom he had surviving issue,
ROBERT, created EARL OF SALISBURY;
Anne, Countess of Oxford;
Elizabeth.
The last memorable act of the Lord High Treasurer's life was an attempt to bring about a peace with Spain, in which he was vehemently opposed by the Earl of Essex, then in the fire of youth.

The young soldier becoming heated in the debate, the venerable minister was induced to pull out a prayer-book and point to the words, "men of blood shall not live out half their lives."

Burghley has been universally condemned for his participation in the destruction of the unhappy MARY, QUEEN OF SCOTS - and justly.

Of the manner of living adopted by this eminent person, we are informed that, suitable to his rank and the custom of the times, he kept up an extraordinary degree of splendour in his houses and gardens, and everything belonging to him.

He had four residences:- his lodgings at Court; Cecil House in the Strand; his family seat of Burghley; and his own favourite seat at Theobalds House.

At his lordship's house in London he had dozens of of family members, exclusively of those that attended him at Court.

His expenses there, as we have it from a person who lived many years in his family, were £30 a week in his absence (about £9,000 in today's money), and between £40 and £50 when present.

At Theobalds House he had thirty persons in his family; and besides a constant allowance in charity, he directed £10 a week (about £3,000 today) to be laid out in keeping the poor at work in his gardens etc.

He kept a standing table for gentlemen and two other tables for persons of meaner condition, which were always served alike, whether he were in or out of town.

Twelve times he entertained the Queen at his house for several weeks together, at the expense of £2-3,000 each visit - a fabulous sum.

At his decease Lord Burghley left about £4,000 a year in land, £11,000 in money (£2.6 million today), and in valuable effects, about £14,000.

His lordship was succeeded by his elder son,

THOMAS, 2nd Baron (1542-1623); who was created EARL OF EXETER, 1605, and installed a Knight of the Garter.

His lordship espoused firstly, Dorothy, daughter and co-heir of John Neville, 4th Baron Latimer, and had issue,
WILLIAM, his successor;
Richard (Sir);
Edward, cr VISCOUNT WIMBLEDON;
Christopher, drowned in Germany;
Thomas;
Catherine; Lucy; Mildred; Mary; Dorothy; Elizabeth; Frances.
The 1st Earl married secondly, Frances, daughter of William Brydges, 4th Baron Chandos, and had an only daughter, ANNE.

His lordship was succeeded by his eldest son,

WILLIAM, 2nd Earl (1566-1640), KG, who married Elizabeth, only child and heir of Edward, 3rd Earl of Rutland, by which lady he had a son,
WILLIAM, who, in right of his mother, became 16th BARON DE ROS.
His lordship wedded secondly, Elizabeth, daughter of Sir William Drury, Knight, and had three daughters, his co-heirs,
Anne; Elizabeth; Diana.
The 2nd Earl was succeeded by his nephew,

DAVID, 3rd Earl (c1600-43), who was succeeded by his son,

JOHN, 4th Earl, who was succeeded, in 1678, by his only surviving son,

JOHN, 5th Earl (c1648-1700), who wedded Anne, only daughter of William, 3rd Earl of Devonshire, and was succeeded by his son,

JOHN, 6th Earl,
John Cecil, 6th Earl (1674–1721);
John Cecil, 7th Earl (c1700–22);
Brownlow Cecil, 8th Earl (1701–54);
Brownlow Cecil, 9th Earl (1725–93);
Henry Cecil, 10th Earl (1754–1804) (cr Marquess of Exeter in 1801). 
Marquesses of Exeter, second creation (1801):-
Henry Cecil, 1st Marquess (1754–1804);
Brownlow Cecil, 2nd Marquess (1795–1867);
William Alleyne Cecil, 3rd Marquess (1825–95);
Brownlow Henry George Cecil, 4th Marquess (1849–98);
William Thomas Brownlow Cecil, 5th Marquess (1876–1956);
David George Brownlow Cecil, 6th Marquess (1905–81);
William Martin Alleyne Cecil, 7th Marquess (1909–88);
(William) Michael Anthony Cecil, 8th Marquess (b 1935).
Exeter arms courtesy of European Heraldry. 

Sunday, 22 October 2017

Freemen of Belfast: 1951-60

HONORARY BURGESSES OF THE CITY OF BELFAST
ELECTED AND ADMITTED BY THE COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF BELFAST UNDER THE MUNICIPAL PRIVILEGE (IRELAND) ACT, 1875


55  HRH Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester, Countess of Ulster ~ 1952

56  Rt Hon William Spencer Earl Granville, KG GCVO CB DSO ~ 1952

57  Rt Hon Rose Constance Countess Granville, GCVO ~ 1952

58  Royal Ulster Rifles ~ 1954

59  Sir James Henry Norritt JP DL ~ 1955

60  Mrs Margaret Lawson OBE ~ 1955

61  Rt Hon Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill KG OM CH TD DL ~ 1955

62  Sir Cuthbert Lowell Ackroyd Bt JP DL ~ 1956

63  Lady Ackroyd ~ 1956

64  Royal Air Force Aldergrove ~ 1957

First published in August, 2012.

Friday, 20 October 2017

Prince Charles in NI

THE PRINCE OF WALES is today visiting County Londonderry.

His Royal Highness is visiting Eglinton Community Centre and YMCA Londonderry to meet local residents, farmers and business owners affected by the flooding in August, and speak to volunteers, emergency services and officials assisting with clean-up efforts.

At Eglinton Community Centre HRH will meet local residents, some of whom remain in temporary housing, and the volunteers helping them to rebuild their homes.

Prince Charles will also speak with representatives from the emergency services, including local Police and Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service, and officials who continue to work on repairing the damage caused by the flooding.

The Eglinton Community Centre served as a place of refuge for those displaced by flooding and a coordination point for volunteers in the immediate aftermath of the storm.


HRH will then visit YMCA Londonderry, near Drumahoe, where he will meet representatives from the local farming community.

The Prince's Countryside Fund has partnered with Rural Support NI to offer Emergency Fund support to farm businesses in the area to assist with long-term recovery.

His Royal Highness will also speak with members of a multi-agency group who were also on standby for Storm Ophelia which struck Northern Ireland earlier this week.

The YMCA provides a valuable after-school programme and has a long tradition of offering team-based sports and fostering good community relations.

The Prince of Wales will view the YMCA's sports pitch, which was heavily damaged during the August flooding, and learn about the effect its loss has had on the local community.

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Carton House

THE DUKES OF LEINSTER WERE THE GREATEST LANDOWNERS IN COUNTY KILDARE, WITH 71,997 ACRES

This illustrious and ancient family is descended from a common ancestor with the house of FITZMAURICE, Earls of Kerry (an earldom now merged with the marquessesate of Lansdowne) and that of WINDSOR, Earls of Plymouth; namely,

MAURICE FITZGERALD, LORD OF LANSTEPHAN, through whose exertions the possession of Ireland was chiefly accomplished by HENRY II.

This Maurice was the son of Gerald FitzOtho (son of Walter FitzOtho, who, at the general survey of the kingdom in 1078, was castellan of Windsor, and was appointed by WILLIAM THE CONQUEROR, warden of the forests of Berkshire; which Walter was the son of

OTHO, a rich and powerful lord in the time of ALFRED THE GREAT, descended from the Dukes of Tuscany, a baron of England, according to Sir William Dugdale, in the reign of EDWARD THE CONFESSOR, by Nesta, daughter of Rhys, Prince of South Wales.

The said Maurice obtained for his services a grant of extensive territories in the province of Leinster, and was constituted, in 1172, one of the governors of Ireland; in which year he slew O'Rourke, Prince of Meath, then in rebellion against the English Government.

This feudal chief died, full of honour, in 1177, and was succeeded by his eldest son, 

GERALD FITZGERALD (c1150-1204), 1st Baron of Offaly, who was with his father in the memorable sally out of Dublin, in 1173, when that city was besieged by O'Connor, King of Connaught, with an army of 36,000 men, over whom the FitzGeralds obtained a complete victory.

This Gerald, dying at Sligo, was succeeded by his son,

MAURICE FITZGERALD (1194-1257), 2nd Baron, Lord Chief Justice of Ireland, who was put into possession, by a mandatory letter of HENRY III, dated 1216, of Maynooth and all the other lands of which his father died seized in Ireland, and was put also into possession of the castle of CRUM, County Limerick.

This nobleman is said to have been the first who brought the Orders of the Franciscans and the Dominicans into Ireland.

In 1229, the King, appreciating the good services of the family since its settlement in Ireland, constituted his lordship lord-justice of the kingdom.

In 1236, Lord Offaly built the castle of Armagh; and, in 1242, he erected a similar edifice at Athlone.

His lordship died in 1257, in the habit of St Francis, leaving the reputation of having been a "valiant knight, a very pleasant man, inferior to none in the kingdom, having lived all his life with commendation."

By his wife he had issue,
Gerald FitzMaurice;
MAURICE FITZGERALD, of whom we treat;
David FitzMaurice;
Thomas FitzMaurice.
He was succeeded by his eldest surviving son, 

MAURICE FITZGERALD (1238-c1286), 3rd Baron, Chief Governor of Ireland, then in minority; and Prince EDWARD having obtained the dominion of Ireland from his father, HENRY III, claimed his wardship as a part of the prerogative; but the barony of OFFALY being held by the minor and his deceased father under Margaret, Countess of Lincoln, to whom belonged the county of Kildare, as widow of the Earl of Pembroke, that lady contested the right of wardship, and brought the case before the King himself for decision.

This nobleman was afterwards Chief Governor of Ireland.

He espoused firstly, Maud, daughter of Sir Gerald de Prendergast, by who he had issue, a daughter, Amabel; and secondly, Emmeline, daughter of Stephen Longespee, by whom he had a daughter, JULIANA FITZGERALD, LADY OF THOMOND.

Lord Offaly was succeeded at his decease by his cousin,

JOHN FITZGERALD, designated of Callann, who wedded firstly, Margery, daughter of Sir Thomas Anthony, with whom he acquired the lands of Decies and Desmond, and had an only son, MAURICE.

He espoused secondly, Honora, daughter of Hugh O'Connor (the first Irish lady chosen for a wife by any member of the family), and had four sons,
Gilbert, ancestor of The White Knights;
John, ancestor of The Knights of Glin;
Maurice, first Knight of Kerry, or The Black Knight;
Thomas, ancestor of the FitzGeralds, of The Island, County Kerry.
This John being killed with his eldest son, Maurice, at Callann, by MacCarthy Mor, against whom the FitzGeralds had raised a great army in 1261, was succeeded by his grandson,

THOMAS, nicknamed Nappagh Simiacus, or the APE, a surname thus acquired - being only nine months old when his father and grandfather fell at Callann, his attendants rushing out at the first astonishment excited by the intelligence, left the child alone in its cradle, when a baboon, kept in the family, took him up, and carried him to the top of the steeple of Tralee Abbey; whence, after conveying him round the battlements, and exhibiting him to the appalled spectators, he brought him down safely, and laid him in his cradle.

From this tradition the supporters of the house of LEINSTER are said to have been adopted.


This Thomas was constituted a Lord Justice of Ireland, and captain of all Desmond, in 1295; and being of so much power, was generally styled Prince and Ruler of Munster.

He married Margaret, daughter of John, Lord Barry, of Oletham; and dying in 1298, left two sons,
JOHN, his successor;
Maurice, created EARL OF DESMOND in 1329.
Thomas was succeeded by his elder son,

JOHN, 5th Baron (c1250-1316), who, being at variance with William de Vescy, Lord of Kildare, and Lord Chief Justice of Ireland in 1291, and having various charges to prefer against him, came over to England, and confronted, and challenged the said Vescy, Lord of Kildare, before the King.

Lord Kildare first took up the glove, but subsequently withdrawing to France, His Majesty EDWARD I pronounced against his lordship, and conferred upon Lord Offaly Vescy's manors and Lordship of Kildare, Rathangan, etc.

Lord Offaly returned triumphantly to Ireland, and having continued to promote the English interest there, was created by EDWARD II, in 1316, EARL OF KILDARE.

His lordship died in the same year.

FROM this nobleman the family honours descended, without anything remarkable occurring, to

GERALD, 5th Earl, who died, leaving a daughter and heir, Elizabeth, who marrying James Butler, 4th Earl of Ormonde, the King's sheriff, in 1434, was ordered, on payment of the usual fine to the Exchequer, to give full livery of the Earl of Kildare's estates to this latter nobleman and his wife; and on the same roll, in that year, we find that Lord Ormonde and his wife paid the accustomed "relief" due to the Crown out of the estates of the said Gerald, Lord Kildare.

But no claim was ever made by the Earls of Ormonde to the parliamentary barony of the Kildare family in right of their marriage with the heir; for we find it with the earldom inherited by

THOMAS (c1421-78), 7th Earl, who succeeded his father John, the 6th Earl, in 1427.

This nobleman was appointed, in 1454 and 1455, Lord Deputy of Ireland; in the latter of which years he held a great council, or parliament, in Dublin, and subsequently one at Naas, wherein, amongst other proceedings, it was resolved
"that as no means could be found to keep the King's coin within the Kingdom of Ireland, that all Frenchmen, Spaniards, Britons, Portuguese, and other sundry nations, should pay for every pound of silver they carried out of the land, 40 pence of custom to the king's customer, for the use of the King."
His lordship was continued in the government of Ireland until 1459, when Richard, Duke of York, was constituted Lord Lieutenant of Ireland; but the following year, Lord Kildare was appointed Deputy to the Duke of York.

This tide of prosperity continued to flow until 1467, when, being involved with the Earl of Desmond, he was attainted with that nobleman (who suffered death), but subsequently pardoned, set at liberty, and restored in blood, by act of parliament.

His lordship was afterwards a Lord Justice of Ireland; and, in 1471, Deputy to George, Duke of Clarence.

He died in 1478, and was succeeded by his eldest son (by Joan, daughter of James, 6th Earl of Desmond), 

GERALD (c1456-c1513), 8th Earl, KG; who was constituted, on his accession to the peerage, Lord Deputy to Richard, Duke of York, and held a parliament at Naas.

In 1480, he was re-appointed Lord Deputy; and again, upon the accession of HENRY VII, Deputy to Jasper, Duke of Bedford, the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland.

Upon the arrival, however, of Lambert Simnel, and his tutor, Richard Simon, an Oxford priest, in Ireland, the Lord Deputy, the Chancellor, Treasurer, and other nobles in the York interest, immediately acknowledged the imposter, and had him proclaimed in Dublin, by the style of EDWARD VI; and the Lord Deputy assisted with the others at his coronation at Christ Church Cathedral, in 1487, where the ceremony was performed with great solemnity, the Chancellor, the Archbishop of Dublin, the Earl of Lincoln, Lord Lovell, Jenico Marks, Mayor of Dublin, and several other persons of rank attending.

The crown was borrowed from the image of the Virgin Mary; John Pain, the Bishop of Meath, preached the coronation sermon; and the Pretender was subsequently conveyed upon the shoulders of Darcy, of Platten, a person of extraordinary height, to Dublin Castle, amidst the shouts of the populace.

In the engagement which afterwards decided the fate of Simnel, near Stoke, the Chancellor, FitzGerald, fell; but the Lord Deputy had the good fortune to make his peace with the King.

His lordship was nominated Lord Lieutenant of Ireland in 1496, when he was succeeded by his son,

GERALD (1487-1534), 9th Earl; who, with his five uncles, having revolted, was imprisoned in the Tower, where he died, in 1534, and an act was passed in the parliament of Ireland attainting him of high treason, and forfeiting the family honours and estates.

His eldest son,

THOMAS, 10th Earl, shared in the misfortunes of his father, and leaving no issue, was succeeded by his brother,

GERALD (1525-85), 11th Earl; of whom a most remarkable account is given by a contemporary historian, Richard Stanihurst.

It appears that, at the age of 10, he was preserved from the power of HENRY VIII by the precaution of his female relatives, and his tutor, Thomas Leurense, his father's foster-brother.

He wandered from court to court upon the Continent, until Cardinal Pole, who was related to his lordship's mother, sent for him into Italy and completed his education.

He wedded Mabel, daughter of Sir Anthony Brown, and through the medium of that connection, obtained the favour of EDWARD VI, who conferred upon him, in 1552, the Lordship of Maynooth and other of his father's estates.

In the ensuing reign, he was fully restored, by letters patent, to the earldom of KILDARE and barony of Offaly, with the precedence of his ancestors.

It is a remarkable circumstance that, though attainted by act of parliament, this Gerald, under such grants from the Crown, but without any new statute, was summoned to, and actually sat as a peer in, the parliament of 1560, and it was not until the 11th year of ELIZABETH I that the attainder was removed by parliament.

His lordship's eldest son, GERALD, Lord Offaly, dying in the lifetime of the 11th Earl, left an only daughter, Lettice, who married Sir Robert Digby, and for a long time claimed the BARONY OF OFFALY, as heir of her father, but which claim, after being referred by JAMES I to the judges of England, was decided by His Majesty himself, who confirmed the barony of Offaly to the Earls of Kildare and their heirs male, and created Lady Digby BARONESS OFFALY for life; whereupon that ancient title devolved on the deceased Earl's second son and successor,

HENRY, 12th Earl, who wedded the Lady Frances Howard, daughter of Charles, Earl of Nottingham, and had surviving issue,
Bridget;
Lettice.
His lordship dying thus without male issue, was succeeded by his brother,

WILLIAM, 13th Earl; who died unmarried, when the honours devolved upon  (the son of Edward FitzGerald, brother of the 11th Earl, his kinsman,

GERALD, 14th Earl; whose grandson,

GEORGE, 16th Earl, was the first of the family brought up in the reformed religion, being so educated by his guardian, the Duke of Lennox.

His lordship wedded Lady Jane Boyle, daughter of the 1st Earl of Cork, and had, with other issue,
WENTWORTH, his successor;
Robert, father of ROBERT, 19th Earl.
George, 16th Earl, was succeeded by his elder surviving son,

WENTWORTH, 17th Earl, who was succeeded by his son,

JOHN, 18th Earl, who dsp in 1707, when the honours reverted to his cousin (refer to Captain Robert FitzGerald, second son of the 16th Earl), 

ROBERT (1675-1743), 19th Earl, third son of Captain Robert FitzGerald, seconnd son of the 16th Earl, who took a distinguished and active part in favour of WILLIAM III, during the contest in Ireland between that prince and his father-in-law, JAMES II.

This nobleman was an eminent statesman in the reigns of Queen ANNE, GEORGE I and GEORGE II.

His lordship espoused, in 1708, Mary, eldest daughter of William, 3rd Earl of Inchiquin, by whom he had four sons and eight daughters; and dying in 1743, was succeeded by his only son then living, 

JAMES, 20th Earl, who was created Viscount Leinster, of Taplow, in 1747; and in 1761, advanced to a marquessate, as Marquess of Kildare.

His lordship was further advanced to the dignity of a dukedom, in 1766, as DUKE OF LEINSTER.

His Grace wedded Lady Amelia Mary, daughter of Charles, Duke of Richmond and Lennox, by whom he had seventeen children, of whom were
WILLIAM ROBERT, his successor;
Charles James, 1st Baron Lecale;
Henry, m Charlotte, Baroness de Ros;
Edward;
Robert Stephen;
Emilia Maria Margaret; Charlotte Mary Gertrude; Sophia Sarah Mary; Lucy Anne.
The 1st Duke died in 1773, and was succeeded by his eldest son,
The heir presumptive is the 9th Duke's younger brother Lord John FitzGerald (born 1952)
The Dukes of Leinster are premier dukes, marquesses and earls of Ireland.


CARTON HOUSE, near Maynooth, County Kildare, remains one of the grandest stately homes in Ireland.

Formerly the ancestral seat of the  Dukes of Leinster, the demesne presently comprises 1,100 acres.


During a history spanning more than eight centuries, Carton House Hotel, County Kildare, has seen many changes.

The estate first came into the ownership of the FitzGerald family shortly after Maurice FitzGerald played an active role in the capture of Dublin by the Normans in 1170 and was rewarded by being appointed Lord of Maynooth, an area covering townlands which include Carton House.
His son became Baron Offaly in 1205 and his descendant, John FitzGerald, became Earl of Kildare in 1315.

Under the 8th Earl, the FitzGerald family reached pre-eminence as the virtual rulers of Ireland between 1477 and 1513.

However, the 8th Earl's grandson, the eloquently titled Silken Thomas was executed in 1537, with his five uncles, for leading an uprising against the Crown.

Although the FitzGeralds subsequently regained their land and titles, they did not regain their position at Court until the 18th century when Robert, the 19th Earl of Kildare, became a Privy Counsellor and a Lord Justice.

The first record of a house at Carton was in the 17th century when William Talbot, Recorder of the city of Dublin was given a lease of the lands by the 14th Earl of Kildare and is thought to have built a house.

The house and lands were forfeited to the crown in 1691 and in 1703 sold to Major-General Richard Ingoldsby, Master-General of the Ordnance.

In 1739, Richard Castle was employed by the 19th Earl of Kildare to build the existing house after it was bought by the 19th Earl of Kildare.

This was the same year the FitzGerald family bought Frescati House. Castle (originally Cassels) was also responsible for some other grand Irish houses including Westport House, Powerscourt House and in 1745, Leinster House, which he also built for the FitzGeralds.

In 1747 James the 20th Earl of Kildare and from 1766 first Duke of Leinster, married Lady Emily Lennox, daughter of the Duke of Richmond and great-granddaughter of King Charles II.


LADY EMILY played an important role in the development of the house and estate as it is today.

She created the Chinese room (bedroom to Queen Victoria) and decorated the famous Shell Cottage on the estate with shells from around the world.

One of Lady Emily's 23 children was the famous Irish Patriot Lord Edward FitzGerald, leader of the 1798 rebellion.

Leinster House (formerly Kildare House)

Carton remained unaltered until 1815 when the 3rd Duke decided to sell Leinster House to the Royal Dublin Society and make Carton his principal residence.

He employed Richard Morrison to enlarge and re-model the house.

Morrison replaced the curved colonnades with straight connecting links to obtain additional rooms including the famous dining room.

At this time, the entrance to the house was moved to the north side.

Carton remained in the control of the FitzGeralds until the early 1920s when the 7th Duke sold his birthright to a moneylender, Sir Harry Mallaby Deeley, in order to pay off gambling debts of £67,500.

He was third in line to succeed and so did not think he would ever inherit, but one of his brothers died in the war and another of a brain tumour and so Carton was lost to the FitzGeralds.

In 1923 a local unit of the IRA went to Carton with the intention of burning it down.

However, they were stopped when a member of the FitzGerald family brought a large painting of Lord Edward FitzGerald to the door and pointed out that they would be burning the house of a revered Irish patriot.

Ronald Nall-Cain, 2nd Baron Brocket, whose principal residence was Brocket Hall in Hertfordshire, purchased the house in 1949; and in 1977 his son, the Hon David Nall-Cain, who had by then moved to the Isle of Man, sold the house to its present owners, Lee and Mary Mallaghan.

Carton House  was remodelled by Richard Castle in 1739, building an enormous central, pedimented block, curved colonnades and wings.

Their Graces' Dublin residence, Kildare House, later renemed Leinster House, easily the grandest private home in the Irish capital, was erected by the same architect six years later.


The Organ Room or Gold Saloon is probably the most magnificent and important room in the House, with its Victorian Pipe organ at one end; its sumptuous gilded walls, ceiling and plasterwork.


The Chinese Room (below) also retains its 18th century character, resplendent with its Chinese wallpaper of 1759 and the sumptuous gilded embellishments within the room.


It has been unfortunate that Carton no longer belongs to either the Dukes of Leinster who created it; nor the Nall-Cains, whose role was notable, too.

Both families left for reasons of impecuniosity: The 7th Duke squandered the family fortune.

The Dukes of Leinster were, by far, the greatest landowners in County Kildare, with an immense amount of property and ground rents in Dublin and Athy.

There were prosperous tenant farms and the family had to release this land under the terms of the Wyndham Act of 1903.

Carton House and demesne has been lovingly restored to become a de luxe hotel.

First published in May, 2011. 

Monday, 16 October 2017

Antrim Castle

THE VISCOUNTS MASSEREENE AND FERRARD WERE MAJOR LANDOWNERS IN COUNTY ANTRIM, WITH 11,778 ACRES

SIR WILLIAM SKEFFINGTON (c1465-1535), Knight, who was appointed by HENRY VIII, in 1529, His Majesty's Commissioner to Ireland, arrived there in the August of that year, empowered to restrain the exactions of the soldiers, to call a parliament, and to provide that the possessions of the clergy might be subject to bear their part of the public expense.

Sir William was subsequently a very distinguished politician in Ireland, and died in the government of that kingdom as Lord Deputy, 1535.

His great-grandson,

JOHN SKEFFINGTON, of Fisherwick, Staffordshire, married Alice, seventh daughter of Sir Thomas Cave, of Stamford, and was father of

SIR WILLIAM SKEFFINGTON, Knight, of Fisherwick, who was created a baronet in 1627, denominated of Fisherwick, Staffordshire.

He married Elizabeth, daughter of Richard Dering, and had issue,
JOHN, 2nd Baronet, whose son WILLIAM, 3rd Baronet, dsp;
RICHARD, 4th Baronet;
Elizabeth; Cicely; Mary; Hesther; Lettice; Alice.
The second son,

SIR RICHARD SKEFFINGTON, was father of

SIR JOHN SKEFFINGTON, 5th Baronet, who wedded MARY, only daughter and heir of

SIR JOHN CLOTWORTHY, who, in reward for his valuable services in promoting the restoration of CHARLES II, was created, in 1660, Baron Lough Neagh and VISCOUNT MASSEREENE, both in County Antrim; with remainder, on failure of his male issue, to his son-in-law, Sir John Skeffington, husband of his only daughter MARY, and his male issue by the said Mary, and failing such, to the heirs-general of Sir John Clotworthy.

His lordship died in 1665, and the honours devolved, according to the reversionary proviso, upon the said

SIR JOHN SKEFFINGTON, 2nd Viscount, who died in 1695 and was succeeded by his son,

CLOTWORTHY, 3rd Viscount (1660-1714), who married, in 1684, Rachael, daughter of Sir Edward Hungerford KB, of Farley Castle, Wiltshire, and had issue,
CLOTWORTHY, his successor;
Jane, Sir Hans Hamilton Bt;
Rachael, Randal, 4th Earl of Antrim;
Mary, Rt Rev Edward Smyth, Lord Bishop of Down and Connor.
His lordship was succeeded by his son,

CLOTWORTHY, 4th Viscount, who wedded, in 1713, the Lady Catherine Chichester, eldest daughter of Arthur, 4th Earl of Donegall, and had issue,
CLOTWORTHY, his successor;
Arthur, MP for Co Antrim;
John, in holy orders;
Hungerford;
Hugh;
Catharine; Rachael.
His lordship was succeeded by his eldest son,

CLOTWORTHY, 5th Viscount (1715-57), who was, in 1756, advanced to an earldom as EARL OF MASSEREENE.

This nobleman wedded, in 1738, Anne, eldest daughter of the Very Rev Richard Daniel, Dean of Down; and secondly, in 1741, Elizabeth, only daughter and heir of Henry Eyre, of Rowter, Derbyshire, and had issue,
CLOTWORTHY, 2nd Earl;
HENRY, 3rd Earl;
William, Constable of Dublin Castle;
John;
CHICHESTER, 4th Earl;
Alexander;
Elizabeth, Robert, 1st Earl of Leitrim;
Catharine, Francis, 1st Earl of Landaff.
His lordship was succeeded by his eldest son,

CLOTWORTHY, 2nd Earl (1743-1805), who married, though having no male issue the family honours devolved upon his brother,

HENRY, 3rd Earl, Governor of the City of Cork, who died unmarried in 1811, and was succeeded by his only surviving brother,

CHICHESTER, 4th Earl, who wedded, in 1780, Harriet, eldest daughter of Robert, 1st Earl of Roden, and had issue,
HARRIET, VISCOUNTESS MASSEREENE.
The 4th Earl died in 1816, when the earldom expired; but the viscountcy of Massereene and barony of Loughneagh devolved upon his only daughter and sole heiress,

HARRIET, VISCOUNTESS MASSEREENE, who married, in 1810, Thomas Henry, Viscount Ferrard, by whom she had issue,

JOHN, VISCOUNT MASSEREENE AND FERRARD (1812-63).
The heir apparent is the present holder's son the Hon. Charles Clotworthy Whyte-Melville Foster Skeffington (born 1973).
Sir John Clotworthy took his title from the half barony of Massereene in County Antrim, where he established his estates.

In 1668, the Marrereenes owned about 45,000 acres in Ireland; however, by 1701, the land appears to have shrunk to 10,000 acres; and, by 1713, the County Antrim estates comprised 8,178 acres.

Land acquisiton through marriage etc meant that the land-holdings amounted to 11,778 acres in 1887.

In the 1600s the Massereenes possessed the lucrative fishing rights to Lough Neagh by means of a 99-year lease and they were also accorded the honour, Captains of Lough Neagh, for a period.

The Chichesters, Earls of Belfast, were Admirals of Lough Neagh.

Historical records also tell us that Lord Massereene had the right to maintain a “fighting fleet” on the Lough.

The 12th Viscount Massereene and Ferrard, DSO, was the last of the Skeffingtons to live at Antrim Castle:
The 12th Viscount was educated at Winchester and Sandhurst; commissioned into the 17th Lancers in 1895; saw action throughout the South African War, 1899-1902; was wounded, mentioned in dispatches and awarded the DSO; and retired as a brevet major in 1907.

Lord Massereene became a TA major in the North Irish Horse later in that year. He later served in the early years of the First World War and is said to have found Lawrence of Arabia 'impossible'. In 1905 he married and succeeded to the title.

He was appointed a Deputy Lieutenant for County Antrim. Although his father-in-law was a Liberal MP and Home Ruler, Lord Massereene was a staunch Conservative and Unionist. Notwithstanding his position as a DL for County Antrim, he is supposed to have sat in his chauffeur-driven car, looking on with approval, as guns were run into Larne Harbour in 1912!

His lordship was Lord-Lieutenant of County Antrim from 1916-38.

From 1921-29 he was Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland and a member of the Northern Ireland Senate.


ANTRIM CASTLE, County Antrim, stood at the side of the River Sixmilewater beside the town of Antrim.

It was originally built in 1613 by Sir Hugh Clotworthy and enlarged in 1662 by his son, the 1st Viscount Massereene.


The Castle was rebuilt in 1813 as a three-storey Georgian-Gothic castellated mansion, faced in Roman cement of an agreeable orange colour.

The original doorway, most elaborate and ornate and complete with Ionic pilasters, heraldry and a head of CHARLES I became a central feature of the new 4-bay entrance front, with a long, adjoining front of 180 feet with 11 bays; mullioned oriels and a tall, octagonal turret were added in 1887 when the Castle was again enlarged.


The image of the Castle above was taken in 1921, just before the disastrous fire.

Clicking on the images shall provide considerable detail.


The demesne boasts a remarkable 17th century formal garden and parterre with a long canal bordered with tall hedges; and another canal at right angles to it making a “T” shape.

There are abundant old trees, masses of yew and walls of rose-coloured brick.

An ancient motte stands beside the ruinous Castle.

The motte was transformed into a magnificent 'viewing mount' in the early 18th century with a corkscrew path lined on the outside with a yew hedge.

Lord and Lady Massereene and their family were hosting a grand ball in Antrim Castle when it was burnt by an IRA gang on the 28th October, 1922.

It is thought that one of the servants was an Irish Republican sympathizer; provided information to the gang; and left the Castle having packed his bags.

Many items of historical importance were destroyed in the fire; but the presence of mind of Lord Massereene and his staff, and the length of time which it takes for a very large house to be consumed by a fire, saved much that would otherwise have been lost.

The daughter of the Archbishop of Armagh, the Most Rev Charles D'Arcy, who was staying at the time, jumped out of a window to save herself.

A 900-piece dinner service of Foster provenance was thrown from the drawing-room windows into the Sixmilewater river; however, very little of it survived intact.

A great deal of furniture, some of it large, was rescued.

More would have been rescued, except that the townspeople of Antrim, who turned out in large numbers to help, thought that the most important thing to be saved was the billiards table!

Thirty men managed to get it out of the castle.
Among the major survivals were the family portraits. A comparison with the portraits itemised by C.H. O'Neill in 1860 and those surviving in family possession today, suggests a rescue operation of astonishing success (although it has to be remembered that many portraits and other important pieces were probably in the London town house in 1922, or with the Dowager Lady Massereene at her house in Hampshire).
The 13th Viscount , who was a small boy at the time, recalled the blaze vividly.

He remembered being trapped with his mother in a light well from which they narrowly escaped, and being told by her that they were going to die there.

He particularly remembered the nursery cat with its fur on fire. I wonder if it survived.

Following the fire, Lord Massereene went to live in the nearby dower house, Skeffington Lodge (which subsequently became the Deer Park Hotel). Further losses of family treasures – this time by sale, not by fire – now followed.

The family considered building a two-storey, Neo-Tudor house on the site of Antrim Castle but nothing came of this.

Apparently no insurance compensation was paid, because arson could not be proved.

The ruin of the great mansion was finally removed about 1970.

After the Second World War, Skeffington Lodge was abandoned; the Antrim Castle stable block was converted for use as a family residence, and was re-named Clotworthy House.

It was let for about ten years following the death of Lord Massereene in 1956. Clotworthy was then acquired by Antrim Borough Council, and was converted for use as an Arts Centre in 1992.

The gardens are of great importance as they retain, in reasonable condition, features from the 17th century.

Whereas, at other sites in Ulster, later fashions dictated alterations in garden layout, at Antrim the formal style typical of European gardens of the 17th century remained little changed throughout successive generations.

The gardens are listed, naming the Long pond and Round Pond.

A great deal of the latter was wooded; became a deer park; and was set out in the early 19th century in clumps and shelter plantations in the landscape manner, but no longer survives in that form.

A fine stone bridge, the Deer Park Bridge, spans the river at a shallow point and formed a link between the demesne and the rest of the estate.

The Anglo-Norman motte adjacent to the house was made into a garden feature, with a yew-lined spiral walk leading to the top, from which views of the grounds, the town of Antrim and the river could (and can still) be enjoyed.

The castle and the motte were enclosed within a bawn and protected by artillery bastions, which were utilized for gardens from the 18th century.

The formal canals, linked by a small cascade and lined with clipped lime and hornbeam hedges, are the main attraction.

The wooded Wilderness is interspersed with straight paths that lead to vistas outside the demesne, which added to the impression that the area it covers is larger than it is.

Unfortunately most of the vistas have now been blocked.

A round pond is a feature in the wilderness. A small former parterre garden is now the family memorial ground.

A larger parterre was reconstructed in the 1990s and now forms a considerable ornamental area planted in the manner of a 17th century garden, including plants that were known to have been grown at that time.

The model for the layout comes from Castle Coole in County Fermanagh. This area is bounded by a fine clipped lime hedge and a venerable yew hedge.

Use of the site as an army camp in the last world war possibly accounts for the paucity of fine mature trees.

Other sections have suffered; the kitchen and ornamental Terrace Garden were destroyed in the 1960s, when a road was laid through part of the area.

The main gate lodge from the town, the Barbican Gate, was possibly built in 1818 to the designs of John Bowden and has been separated from the site by the intrusion of the road.

An underpass now connects the lodge entrance to the grounds.

Another gate lodge, at the farm and stables entrance on the Randalstown Road, has been demolished.

The stable block, built in the 1840s and now known as Clotworthy House, is used as an arts centre.

It replaced an earlier stable block immediately to the east of the house and assumed the name ‘House’ when the family went to live in it some time after the fire at the castle.

The estate and gardens are now owned by Antrim Borough Council and are open all the time for public access.

The 14th and present Viscount formerly lived with his family at Chilham Castle in Kent till it, too, was sold in 1996.

First Published in March, 2010.  Massereene arms courtesy of European Heraldry.